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Porno blog spam turns nasty

Smut attack via compromised military proxies

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Blog spamming is turning nasty. First spotted approximately a year ago, blog spam involves the automated posting of Web address onto weblogs or online discussion boards.

Spam comments deposited using the technique include a link to a spamvertised website. The idea is not so much to get visitors to a spammed location to visit the promoted site but to increase its page rankings in Google. This, in turn, increases the prominence of the site in certain searches and therefore increases the likelihood that more visitors will visit a site. That's the theory anyway.

This nasty side-effect of the chronic interlinking of blogspace as interpreted by Google's PageRank algorithm has thus far been used to promote the usual Viagra sites, mortgage and Internet gaming sites. Blog writers have fought back by using anti-spam plug-ins blogging software. This has helped but it hasn't got rid of the problem.

Over recent months, regular email spammers have used networks of compromised machines to disseminate spam. Now we're starting to see the first evidence of blog spam been sent through compromised machines in order to promote illegal porn sites.

Last week spam advertising of "incest, rape and animal sex" pornography was posted on a web log which was set up to discuss the Draft ID Cards Bill. Mark, a prominent member of London 2600, and the person who runs the Watching Them, Watching Us site, was able to see that the offending post came from an open proxy on an unclassified military network. A number of other attacks apparently from the same address had also been tried. Mark was able to further trace the IP address of the apparent source of these spam attacks back to US hosting firm 3fn.net.

"I have other log file entries which show the pattern of illegal porn blog spam attacks from the same IP address, some through other open proxy servers," Mark writes. "At a guess the US military Internet gateways are members of a proxy chain, and it is some internal machine or machines which have either been compromised, or which are internet accessible and acting as open proxy servers via the gateways. Neither of these scenarios should be tolerated."

"No doubt 3fn.net will wish to cooperate with any investigation by the UK National High Tech Crime Unit to determine if its Apache web server [name supplied] has been compromised, or if it is only a link in a chain of compromised systems, or if customers or staff of 3fn.net are responsible."

Mark forwarded an email complaining about the problem to the US Military, 3fn.net and UK's National High Tech Crime Unit last week. The NHTCU has read his email and he's had a response for one of the techies at 3fn.net, who said he was looking into the problem. Mark has received nothing back from the US military.

3fn.net is yet to respond to our request for comment on the progress of this investigation. ®

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Related links

Blog Aggregator software is prone to the same kinds of cross site scripting attacks as sometimes affect web browser software. A useful RSS feed to check on a dozen or so security holes in Blog Aggregator software is here. A popular anti-spam add-on to Movable Type blogging software is MT-Blacklist

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